In 2021, a poll by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty found 54% of Americans believed schools should require students and school employees to address each other using preferred pronouns.

Now, things are different.

The 2023 survey of 1,000 U.S. adults in September and October found 58% believe schools should not mandate preferred pronoun use, a shift of 12% over two years.

The Becket Fund points to responses from those aged 25 to 44 – the age demographic for parents with children in school – as the force driving the reversal.

“The shift in attitude on school pronoun mandates is part of the overall groundswell of support for parental rights,” Mark Rienzi, CEO of Becket, told The Daily Signal.

“Americans are increasingly opposed to school rules that force one-sided gender ideology onto children in the classroom and seek to cut parents out of the discussion,” he added. “That’s a welcome development for anyone who takes parental rights and the First Amendment seriously.”

Other results from 2023 show 68% of those polled agreed that “if public school parents oppose part of the local public school curriculum because they believe it to be morally objectionable or inappropriate, they should be able to opt their children out of objectionable or inappropriate content.” That’s up four percentage points since 2021.

The percentage who agreed with opt outs for reasons of faith or age-appropriateness concerns was 74%, while support for transgender policies was much lower.

“On the flip side, less than a quarter of Americans supported schools encouraging children to transition their gender (24%),” according to the Religious Freedom Index report. “And barely one-fifth thought schools should be able to hide information from parents about a child’s decision to transition or take up a new name (21%).”

The survey follows legislation in dozens of states across the country in recent years aimed at increasing transparency and parental rights in education. The legislation in many cases addresses concerns outlined in the index, from limits on discussions about gender identity and sexuality in early grades, to policies prohibiting schools from shielding health information from parents.

The bills follow a deluge of complaints from parents that accelerated during the pandemic, as many became more familiar with curriculums and classroom materials when students transitioned to remote learning.

A total of 19 states now have statutes that protect parental rights, including at least seven that have adopted such measures since 2021, according to the Parental Rights Foundation.

In North Carolina, the most recent state to join the list, schools are now working to ensure parents have an avenue to voice and resolve complaints, access to school materials and library books used by their children, and access to all information about their child’s physical and mental health at school.

In many states, efforts to codify parental rights have met stiff resistance from Democrats, teachers unions, and transgender activists who have framed those efforts as an attack on transgender students.

Opponents argue informing parents about the gender their children identify at school could endanger some who have parents who might not support gender transitions. They also contend transgender students need access to books and materials about the lifestyle to feel supported at school.

The 2023 results from the Religious Freedom Index suggest most parents and Americans disagree, a shift from recent years that’s part of a broader trend of support for religion in general.

“In 2022, Americans were evenly split on the question of whether religion was part of America’s problems – or part of the solution to those problems,” according to the Becket Fund report. “But this year, the percentage of Americans who considered religion part of the solution rose to 59%.”